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Steve Jobs’ Apple-1 computer prototype used for his first major order to be auctioned

An Apple-1 computer prototype used by Steve Jobs to secure the first major order for his then fledgling company is up for auction.

The rare piece of tech history is being sold by Boston-based RR Auction. Bidding started on 20 July and will close on 18 August at 6:00 pm EDT (19 August at 11:00 am SST).

The item has received 19 bids as of 3 August. The current highest bid is of USD 407,029, almost 50 percent higher than the USD 278,005 a week ago.

More about the Apple-1 computer prototype

Paul Terrell was impressed by it

Apple-1 computer prototype auction
Image credit: RR Auction/@rrauction/Facebook

Describing the item on its website, RR Auction said that it was hand-soldered by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on a ‘Apple Computer A’ printed circuit board. It was then used by Jobs for a demonstration of the Apple-1 before Paul Terrell in 1976.

Jobs and Wozniak wanted to make Apple-1 as a USD 40 do-it-yourself kit, but an impressed Terrell convinced them to turn it into an assembled personal computer priced at USD 666.66.

Terrell also placed an order of 50 Apple-1s for his personal computer store The Byte Shop, effectively giving the push to what is a global juggernaut today.

Prototype slightly differs from actual Apple-1 computer

The ‘Apple Computer A’ prototype differs from the actual Apple-1 computers that went into production in some ways. For instance, the prototype used three orange Sprague Atom capacitors while the production version had the ‘Big Blue’ capacitors. The prototype also does not have the green protective coating of the Apple-1 computers.

RR Auction says that the bubbles formed on the soldered connections on the prototype indicate that Wozniak used his “three-handed technique,” which involves using a wire in one hand, soldering iron in the other and the solder in the mouth.

Prototype was considered ‘lost’

According to RR Auction, the item’s current owner received the prototype from Steve Jobs himself 30 years ago. Since no one knew of its existence, it was considered ‘lost’ until recently.

The circuit board was matched with Terrell’s Polaroid photographs of the prototype taken in 1976. Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen examined and authenticated the prototype in 2022. His notarised thirteen-page report is also part of the item.

Find out more about the auction here.

(Main and Featured image: RR Auction)

Manas Sen Gupta
Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.
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